Susan Cummins Miller: Nonfiction


Women Writers of the American Frontier, 1800–1922

Compiled and Edited by Susan Cummins Miller

With a new preface



“In this book are bits and pieces of dreams, lives, experiences, and vistas, like squares cut from old cloth and assembled into a crazy quilt of writing styles and forms. The patchwork design mirrors both the complexity of the chroniclers and the stark lines and angles of the American frontier.”--Susan Cummins Miller, from her introduction

In this anthology of thirty-four writers who published during the settlement years of the American frontier, Miller assembles nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and occasional writings from women of Anglo, Chinese, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicity. Addressing such themes as isolation, drudgery, frustration, mourning, and even mysticism, these writers offer up a different frontier, one that focuses on women’s experiences as much as men’s. In her biographical and historical introductions to each writer, Miller shares insights and context as engaging as the selections themselves.

“Not simply paeans to the West, the selections examine substantive social, political, and racial themes and explore issues of identity, marriage, and autonomy.”--J. K. Weinstein, Choice

“This useful and accessible collection has great appeal for general readers with an interest in western, nineteenth-century, or women’s history. Moreover, college and high school instructors will find it a welcome source and textbook.”--Jennifer L. Jenkins, Journal of Arizona History

“The frontier and American women are intertwined in the collected pieces through the issues of race, the clash of indigenous and invading or intermingling cultures. The feminine voice is heard throughout--voices rich in detail and less impaired by territorial imperative.”--David B. Broad, Journal of the West

"A concise biography and description of the significance of each author is given as Miller introduces snippets of poems, essays, fiction, and recollections that together paint a broad view of the West. Using the poignant words of the women participants gives insight into their thoughts and feelings, and their frontier impressions and experiences add a sense of time, place, and social commentary to the history of their time. For the most part, these women wrote professionally and published for an audience of avid readers enamored of the frontier. Cummins includes women travelers, but the primary authors are Anglo and European women settlers and Chinese, Hispanic, and Native American writers. Hers is a multicultural, multisocial and multi-racial frontier that is spread from Michigan and Texas to the Pacific Coast . . . . Other sections of the book illustrate the caring, tender feelings, and emotions of frontiersmen about their fellow inhabitants. As Cummins [Miller] transmits the strength and courage of people who lived there, she provides views of the landscape and descriptions of the harshness and beauty of the land." Linda Sybert Hudson, PhD, Texas Ranger Dispatch, Summer 2008

Taos Pueblo, NM       (S.C. Miller)